City, County And Government Liability

Lawyers Prosecuting City, County And Government Liability In California

City, county, state and federal government employees and agencies are all required to act reasonably. When someone is hurt or killed as a result of public employee negligence or a dangerous condition of public property, the responsible public entity or city, county or state agency can be liable for damages. This is true whether the dangerous condition or negligent conduct is traced to a state employee, a city, a county, a school district, water district, a hospital board or other public entity.

Walkup Melodia Has Experienced Public Liability Attorneys

In the past 50 years, the California injury specialists at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger have concluded more than 250 cases against public entities, including the United States government, the city and county of San Francisco, San Mateo County, Marin County, Alameda County, Sonoma County, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, BART, the Golden Gate Bridge Transit District, the State of California, SamTrans, UC Hospitals, Caltrans, Caltrain, the San Francisco Water Department, the California Highway Patrol, the San Francisco Sheriff's Department, the city of Oakland, Alameda County, Napa County, the U.S. Postal Service, and a host of water districts, hospital districts and school districts, sheriff's departments and police departments.

Our California public entity liability specialists have developed expertise in the preparation and trial of cases involving public buildings, structures and property; we handle cases involving dangerous roadways, buildings, bridges and other structures. Dangerous condition liability arises in many circumstances:

  • Road resurfacing, striping, site distance and design
  • Poorly designed bridge abutments, guardrails and median dividers
  • Negligently managed construction zones, including those that do not have proper or visible signage
  • Inadequate lighting at road resurfacing or construction projects, rendering pedestrians, other vehicles and landmarks difficult or impossible to see
  • Bad road design, including lanes that are too narrow or turns that are improperly banked and railroad crossings that are mismarked or not guarded
  • Surface defects, including potholes, loose gravel and other pavement hazards that cause vehicles to go out of control

All California citizens and motorists are entitled to walk on public sidewalks and drive on public roadways that have been properly built and maintained. Where improper maintenance or design results in death, the law firm of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger is ready to step in and help. Californians trust state highway maintenance engineers to make certain that our highways are safe.

The public entity wrongful death specialists at Walkup Melodia also have extensive experience representing citizens who have been injured through the negligence of public transportation systems, including the San Francisco Municipal Railway, SamTrans, Golden Gate Trans buses, Golden Gate Transit ferries, San Francisco Municipal Railway cable cars, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Caltrain.

Successful Verdicts And Settlements Against Public Entities

Brain Injury — Dangerous Crosswalk — $12.2 Million Jury Verdict

Our attorneys obtained a jury verdict against Caltrans for a dangerous roadway. The award, in excess of $12 million, was returned on behalf of a 17-year-old girl injured in San Mateo County when she was struck by a slow-moving vehicle while walking across a dark, marked crosswalk. As a result of this collision, she sustained a catastrophic brain injury that has left her in a permanent vegetative state.

Bicyclist Paralyzed By Dangerous Condition Of Public Property — $9.5 Million Settlement

Our attorneys achieved this settlement on behalf of a 29-year-old amateur cyclist whose front tire became wedged in the broken grates of a storm drain cover. The claim was brought against Alameda County, which was responsible for the maintenance and safety of the roadway surface.

Our client was traveling at roughly 10 mph when he vaulted over the handlebars as his bike came to an abrupt stop. He landed on his head and fractured his neck. Walkup's personal injury attorneys were able to find other citizens who had complained about the problem in the past, thereby putting the city on notice.

High School Sexual Assault – Multimillion-Dollar Settlement

Walkup public entity liability lawyers obtained a confidential seven-figure settlement on behalf of a teenager who sustained serious physical and emotional injuries when assaulted at school, showing that the courtyard where the rape occurred was dangerous, unlit and unprotected. Principals, teachers and parents had asked for security measures, including lights, fences and working surveillance cameras. The district promised to install these items, but never did.

Runaway Cable Car – $4 Million Settlement

An empty cable car crashed into a cable car carrying our client, a tourist from Vancouver, British Columbia. He was one of seven people hurt in the collision. He was trapped between the two cable cars for 90 minutes. Doctors had to amputate our client's left leg below the knee. His right ankle was also damaged. Our cable car negligence lawyers successfully represented the plaintiff in his MUNI railway negligence case, achieving a settlement that exceeded $4 million.

Streetcar Hits Pedestrian On Embarcadero – $3.25 Million Recovery

Our public transportation team of lawyers obtained this $3.25 million recovery against the San Francisco Municipal Railway arising from a pedestrian vs. streetcar collision. Initial investigation by the San Francisco Police Department placed all blame on the injured plaintiff for allegedly stepping in front of a moving MUNI F-Line train.

Walkup lawyers developed evidence showing that the streetcar's operator entered the accident crosswalk against a burned out red streetcar signal at an excessive speed. The city highly disputed all claims of negligence and dangerous conditions. The plaintiff sustained significant brain injury requiring extensive physical and cognitive rehabilitation.

Lifeguard Negligence – $2.25 Million Public Pool Drowning

The Walkup public liability team represented the parents of a 14-year-old eighth-grader who drowned in a public pool when three lifeguards on duty failed to see him submerged in 6 feet of water. The pool, operated by the local park district, provided professional lifeguards. The incident occurred during a junior high school year-end picnic.

At the time, dozens of eighth-graders were in the pool. In spite of industry standards obligating lifeguards to scan their assigned zone every 30 seconds, none of the three lifeguards saw the young man sink below the surface – even though he was directly in front of them. At deposition, none of the lifeguards was able to explain how the drowning occurred. One of the students, and not a lifeguard, was the first person to notice the young man beneath the surface of the water. The decedent was the oldest of five children.

Police Misconduct/Dog Bite – $1.5 Million Settlement

Our government liability team settled a federal civil rights case for $1.5 million on behalf of the estate and heirs of an 89-year-old man who died two months after being mauled by a police department K9 dog. During a neighborhood search for robbery suspects, police officers hoisted a K9 over a fence and into a residential backyard where the dog bit the innocent decedent on the leg. He developed gangrene and underwent an above-the-knee amputation 10 days later. The decedent endured significant pain and suffering and died of heart failure two months later.

Dangerous Public Park – $1 Million Settlement For Visitor Killed By Falling Tree

We negotiated a settlement in the amount of $1 million on behalf of the surviving heirs of a woman killed when a 30-foot length of a diseased pine tree fractured and fell, striking and killing her at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove. Our dangerous condition attorneys were able to prove that at least six pine trees, each more than 100 tall, had been tagged three years earlier for removal because of the very risk that resulted in the woman's death.

The plaintiffs included the son and daughter of the deceased and three of her grandchildren. The son and grandchildren witnessed the event and had claims for both emotional distress and wrongful death.

Dangerous Roadway – $1 Million City Settlement

Walkup lawyers obtained a $1 million partial settlement on behalf of a 17-year-old girl who sustained brain injury as a result of being struck in a crosswalk. The plaintiff sued the negligent driver who struck her, the state of California and Caltrans as the owner of the roadway, and the city of Millbrae, which had a duty to maintain the vegetation along the roadway.

Evidence established that an overgrown tree obscured a pedestrian warning sign intended to alert drivers (such as the defendant) to the presence of pedestrians as they approached the subject intersection. The city of Millbrae and plaintiff reached the $1 million settlement.

Bay Area Catastrophic Injury And Wrongful Death Lawyers

Northern California citizens are killed each year as a result of public transportation errors and negligence. Under California law, public transportation systems are known as "common carriers," which means they are required to operate with the highest degree of care possible to ensure the safety of their passengers. When negligent and dangerous operation results in death, public entities are liable. Additionally, public entities are required to maintain their vehicles in a manner that is safe and fit, consistent with the "highest degree of care" to avoid serious or fatal injury to their passengers.

Our California public entity lawsuit attorneys have been the most successful in Northern California, obtaining millions of dollars for injured passengers and the survivors of deceased clients killed by public transportation negligence. If a member of your family or a loved one has been fatally injured by the act or omission of a public employee, contact us today. Call us at 415-906-3764 or contact the Walkup firm online to set up a free and confidential consultation.